OTLEY’S secondary school has started consulting on proposed changes to its admissions policy.

Prince Henry’s Grammar School has sent a letter out to parents, carers and local politicians - and shared the details with neighbouring schools - about the system it wants for 2020.

The Otley school is regularly oversubscribed and this year faced unprecedented demand, leading to 19 children from Bramhope and three from Pool-in-Wharfedale initially failing to get a place.

Prince Henry’s ended up adding, as a one-off move, 25 extra Year 7 places to resolve the problem.

It has since agreed to form a Multi-Academy Trust with Bramhope Primary School and the new admissions policy would include a ‘preference to students’ from Bramhope.

Headteacher Janet Sheriff however, in her letter outlining the proposed changes, stresses that they should have no impact on children who have Prince Henry’s as their nearest school.

She said: “Prince Henry’s has historically been oversubscribed for school places in Year 7.

“The demand for places has increased over time and in 2018 this resulted in 19 Year 6 pupils from Bramhope Primary School unable to secure a place at Prince Henry’s under the existing Admissions Policy.

“The Local Authority demographic and projections data for school admissions suggest that this pressure on Year 7 places is likely to continue in future years.

“The proposed change would ensure that children who attend Bramhope Primary School, and therefore have experienced strong and sustained educational and social links with Prince Henry’s, will be given a higher priority.

“This would not, however, be to the detriment of any child where Prince Henry’s is their nearest high school.

“Therefore, as stated previously, children living in the local community of Otley will not be affected at all by the change proposed.”

Local politicians, however, have previously expressed doubts about the proposal.

In June Otley Town Council approved a resolution that stated: “We share the concerns expressed by our local community in relation to the availability of places at Prince Henry’s for Otley residents’ children.”

It went on to demand assurances from the new Multi-Academy Trust that any child living in Otley who wanted to attend Prince Henry’s would be ‘guaranteed’ a place.

The admissions policy consultation began on Friday, October 5 and will run for seven weeks, ending on Friday, November 23.

All of the responses will be considered by the Board of Governors for their December meeting and the outcome is due to be published on the Prince Henry’s website by the end of February, 2019.